People Will Always Need Plates is the creation of ex-RCA ceramist Hannah Dipper and industrial design graduate Robin Farquhar. Both major fans of prefabricated concrete, their distinctively illustrated ceramics and homeware ranges are to be found in only the very coolest places (think Saatchi Store; Treacle; In Spitalfields) Robin's first answer to question one below was "dead good". We have to agree.
How would you describe your work to someone who'd never seen it?
We use high quality, low volume batch production to create witty, thoughtful and stylish products as a direct antithesis to the current proliferation of cheap, throwaway design. In keeping with our credo that good design should be used and enjoyed, treasured and shared, we try to develop products that, while diverse in style and application, always retain the fundamental values of functionality and beauty.
Our current ceramics and homeware ranges focus on British architecture - both iconic and less-celebrated edifices. We particularly love prefabricated concrete which is evident in much of the work - and the distinctive clean illustrative style we use to reproduce the images has become synonymous with our brand.
What inspires your designs?
Modernism - both architecturally and also in our need to make beautiful, pared-back design. Products that we hope will become future design classics. Initially, much of our work focused on London as it's a rich source of material and ideas, but as the company has developed, we're increasingly looking further afield for ideas.
What would be your dream design commission?
We'd absolutely love to reproduce the Case Study houses of California. The US has more stringent and complex copyright laws than the UK when it comes to use of imagery and names, so we're slightly afraid to draw such iconic buildings for products without first speaking to all of the right people... and there are many - not least the lucky owners of the remaining 'works'.
What would you most like people to say about your designs/products?
Originality, quality and desirability are likely key for us as jobbing designers. Both of us have a good grounding in working for design agencies and feel strongly that any design work should be appropriate and fit for purpose. We'd never make ceramic that wasn't dishwasher safe, for example, or produce shopping bags that couldn't carry a goodly trip to the market.
In whose house would you most like to see your products?
We'd really like to produce a full "Ain't Concrete Great?" dinner service for formal occasions at Clarence House. This is Prince Charles' residence - and for those who don't know, he's most definitely NOT a fan of concrete, having remarked that the National Theatre: " ...[was] a clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting." We think it's time he reconsidered the virtues of the Brutalists - and what better way than through discussion over dinner on fine English Bone China illustrating these very ideals?
If you could only have one of your own designs in your own home, which would you choose and why?
We prefer not to use our own designs at home. We work with these all day and every day, so once the day is done we prefer to surround ourselves with other people's work. We particularly love our Paratiisi dinner plates by Birger Kaipiainen for Arabia and our Rudolf Eschler 1930s tumblers for Moser. Once dinner is done, we love to sit in the 'glow' of our Lena Bergstrom Planet - our much-loved wedding present which has thus far escaped the ravages of the toddler.
What next for People Will Always Need Plates?
We're busy working on some Christmas gifts right now, looking forward to the launch of our first book in August and longer term, looking to develop other products to remind folk that we don't just put houses on plates!
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